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Encyclopaedia vs. Tutorials: What should this project look like?
The project started covering the UScript class tree, as there's an obvious topic hierarchy, whereas with tutes the divisons are a bit more blurry. Particularly, the (arbitrary) division of tutorials into beginner/intermediate/advanced isn't conducive to finding information when the split is over several pages.
The real mapper beginner could be lost in all the knowledge of a complex encyclopedia. Ideas (mostly now implemented):
- mini 'real' tutorials at the end of each section. For example, at the end of the effects page a little article 'Now follow this tutorial to make an exploding wall with smoke'. That's what beginners are looking for, and that's the best way to learn.
- example: the page on the Mover class stands as a reference document, but a page that explains what a mover is and the basics of using it is needed too, for example Create A Mover.
- similar to disambiguation pages on Wikipedia: technical pages such as Mover begin with links to tutorials on the subject. Put either a tutorial, or a link to it at the beginning of each page. Then after practice,explain the theory. Advanced disciples would just skip the tutorial part.
Novice and pro mappers browse differently, because they will be visualizing the process from a different perspective. Refactoring redundant and duplicated information is time-consuming.
BadDog's [Complete Unreal Editor Reference and Guide] stats are: 286 Topics in 41 Categories, 316 Local Links, 649 Internet Links, 1,447 Graphic Images (31.8 MB).
- There's going to be considerable duplication between CueRag and UnrealWiki
- it would be extremely cool if we could use his graphics, though it's the original tute authors we'd have to ask, not him. For that matter, have you InvitedATutorialWriter to the Wiki today?
Tarquin: is that still on course? He hasb't posted in BufEd for ages.
Tarquin: The mailing list at yahoo has generated loads of compiled Q&A documents, which are partially archived at yahoo & at http://www.chessmess.com when it's up.
I've suggested on that list that they could be imported into the Wiki. There's some duplication & it might be an idea to refactor things into expositions rather than Q&A format. Anyway, I was thinking of inviting the mods from that group to discuss the idea here, wondering if anyone had opinions on the subject.
EntropicLqd: Not so much a wanted page, but more a wanted section. The left navigation really should contain some Tutorials links. Now, I know we don't have many right now, but it's something we should encourage. Whether there should be a different tutorial link under the Mapping and Scripting sections I'm not sure although it seems more sensible. Opening a couple of tutorials pages would be news-worthy as well.
Tarquin: We had a tutorials? page once, it didn't do very well. There's Mapping Lessons too. I'm all for a "guided tour" page, which walks novices through the Wiki in a nice, logical way. I hope that's what the "* lessons" pages can be, but they seem to turn into a collection of links which don't really hang together, and which nobody maintains. Tutorials should be linked on the topic pages like Lighting too.
EntropicLqd: I suspect that the tutorials page didn't do very well because of the nature of the contributors - most of us haev all worked with the editor and code before - what we needed at the time was an in depth reference guide. I was looking at the Wiki from a purely, UT2003 is awesome I want to make a map, how do I do it? point of view and realised that there are no clues for the new visitor. New visitors will be overwhlemed by the amount of stuff in the wiki – heck, it even scares me. It might be worth putting the lessons page in the index. I didn't know it existed. Maybe I'll give this area some TLC - I can't bear the thought of another thousand tutorial sites springing up around UT2003. It was bad enough with UT.
Tarquin: The two "lessons" pages are at the top of Home Page. They need plenty of TLC, indeed.
EntropicLqd: Did you just put them there of have they always been there? Pretty scary if they've been there for ages ... ah the curse of recent changes. The Wiki would do itself a huge favour if it came up on some search engines. I did a search for "UT2003 Tutorials" on google and Tarquin/Mumblings was the first hit I got, on page 4 I think it was. We could do with writing some wonderful prose about everything we cover (and want to cover why not) and get the site re-submitted to some search engines. Searching for "UT Map Making" didn't score a hit (I got bored after page 8 though). "Unreal Tournament Actor" got a hit on the first page woo, to Linked List/Existing Lists In Unreal Tournament. Anyways ... we could probably do with make ourselves a little more visible in searches.
Tarquin: they've been there for ages! There's debate on Home Page/Discuss about the whole "what is a tutorial" thing, I think. Too right, we need more Googling!
Mychaeel: Do I see a new trend here...? After Creating DM-Quadroid (which is more or less meant to be a tutorial), we recently got DM-Encarceration. Is that something we should encourage, or should we rather ask people not to use the Unreal Wiki for that purpose?
EntropicLqd: If the sole aim of the Wiki is to provide a single point of reference for everything related to doing things with the Unreal engine then I would say not. In which case the Creating DM-Quadroid page should definately be renamed to Tutorial DM-Quadroid cos that's what it is (more or less). If the Wiki has a secondary goal of allowing the contributors to strut their stuff and pimp their l33t h4x0r sk1llz then it's fine.
Tarquin: Early on I had considered that we could host mappers, but that would a separate branch where mappers get their own subdomain. I'm not longer sure that's a good idea. I don't know if QAPete wants to host mappers directly from BU (he's not at the moment AFAIK), and I don't know if that's because he doesn't feel he has the space or doesn't want too many hosted sites. In case 2, a "United Association of Mappers" would be a single hosted site with subdomains. Anyway, all that's more or less been dropped. I suggested that "leet" mappers could do "masterclasses", where they take one of their famous maps and explain how they made it: the techniques, the ideas, the thought-process behind the design. With ut2003, all the "leetness" is reset, so it'll be a while before some great maps arise & become well-known enough. Another idea was to give several mappers a simple map, like one box room or a corridor, and say "make this leet", and then showcase the different results. I don't yet have a feel for static mesh mapping but I think there may be less possiblity for architectural creativity now, unless one plays with Maya. So that idea might be down the pan too. To close this lengthy ramble, I would say we should only showcase things if the principal aim is to demonstrate or instruct, in which case 2D screenshots are important too. Entropic, maybe we should rename those map tutorial pages so they don't have a name: "Simple DM Map Tutorial" for example, so people don't get the wrong idea.
EntropicLqd: Given the above comments then those pages definately need renaming. Something a bit shorter and snappier would be nice though - maybe Tutorial DM (UT) and Tutorial DM – assuming I have the naming conventions right. It's a shame to lose the name as I'm intending to make the DM tutorials build equivalent maps but no matter. It is of very little consequence. I'll tweak the name of what will become the DD tutorial. I'm still playing my way through the single player game of UT2003, so I've not even bothered to look at the editor in any real depth. I figured I'd do well to get a feel for the new game first. If I had to give a single word summary it would be passable. Most of the maps are adequate but none have really grabbed me as stunning.
Mychaeel: Bump. At least mappers should put their map project pages below their personal page.
Flashman: <RANT> ...which I did, then Tarq comes along and informs me that the projects page I created should be under Category Journal instead?
This made sense until I read this topic. (props to Mychaeel for the bump) You see IMHO (not that it holds any sway fact wise, but might give an idea of what the fresh contrubitor typically thinks...) UWiki is a place for the various minds of the UEd community to come together, share knowledge, and advise each other, but in addition to that it can be (with the use of the personal pages) a place where peeps come in search of a Texture artist to help them in their latest project, or where the 1337 mappers among us (myself most definitely not in that bracket) can see other peoples efforts and if they wish offer honest advice and support to help kick the community as a whole along to greater things. This sort of feedback cannot come from your average play-tests or reviewers, because it will provide moreinsight into technical issues alongside artistic considerations, and it will come from the minds of not just one, but possibly many contributors. This is a focus I reckon the Wiki could have, but doesn't need any modification for.
I don't mean that the zips should be hosted here of every map someon wants feedback about, but just information about the project, one or two screenies perhaps, and a discussion below. If you're in any doubt about the sort of page I mean, look at my attempt: flashman/projects. People could then put a link to an FTP where the map is hosted, or ask people who wanted to see a copy to submit their email addy. </RANT>
Mychaeel: Putting those map pages in the mappers' areas under Category Journal sounds good to me (better than making them subpages of their personal pages). There's only a single level of subpages though, so different maps would all have to be on the same page. (I just dislike top-level map pages.)
EntropicLqd: Alternatively you could create mutliple journal pages and just prefix the page name with your name. Having a single journal page will be unworkable in the long run as it will get far too long to have any real meaning. My single flag CTF mod journal will be huge once I've finished the mod. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing a Map Ideas equivalent for the Mod Ideas page. The attempt for formalise a way of specifying a map design would be an interesting exercise in its own right. In terms of actually hosting pages for completed maps I'm not so sure about. Surely BU has an area for that (if not maybe it needs one). I realise I abuse the Wiki slightly because I create pages that allow me to keep a single version of a "doc" in one place, accessable from both home and work, but in the case of my current EntropicLqd/EntropicMapInCreepMode? page, once I've finished the spec. the page will vanish. It's a shame there is only one level of sub-pages.
Tarquin: It is perhaps strange to have the "journal" pages as subpages elsewhere. That's just the way it grew. I'm currently wondering if we should encourage pages for comment/opinion/debate to be non-subpages – see for example the Curse of Static Meshes page.
RoninLord: It would make it easier to have the time zone offset from UTC rather than local server time. Everyone knows their UTC offset off the top of their head, and Time Zone offset on its own usually refers to UTC offset. While you only have to do it once, it would make it easier for new users.
Mychaeel: I doubt many users know what UTC is to start with. The "Preferences" page displays the current server time directly over the time zone offset just in order to make it easy to figure out the offset: If server time is 6 PM and your local time is 2 PM (check your watch), the offset is obviously 4 hours.
RoninLord: Well took a little time to workout for me, I had to calculate for the next day. While your probably right on not many people knowing of UTC, but then I wouldn't survive with out knowing it. As a coder and network admin I couldn't survive without it
DJPaul: Bing! Take Actor (UT) as an example; that's obviously a page for UT. What do we do for the UT2003 version? I'm seeing a lot of like, Actor page naming in this case because this is a bad idea - not specifcially for the actor class, but what happens if we bring along a Deus Ex version? Is that a [Actor (DX)]?? If it is, therefore is UT2003 the main game - i.e. should unsuffixed pages presumed to be about UT2003?
Mychaeel: Yes, that's how it is handled at the moment. (If somebody makes a list of all class page names relating to UT that don't have a "(UT)" suffix yet, we could batch-rename them.)
GRAF!K: Recent Changes seems to have a few bugs. I find that as I make edits they'll appear on Recent Changes, then I'll come back and they're gone. Then the next day I'll come back again and they've been restored. ???
Mychaeel: Show me an example of that behavior.
GRAF!K: Sorry, i'm just an idiot; I use multiple computers and on one of them I had Preferences all jacked up.
For awhile I had problems with finding my userID and I had multiple acounts with different preferences.
Mychaeel: Some newly created pages contain statements that clearly attribute that page to its initial creator. It's customary here though that DocumentMode contributions are anonymous (just like they are "public domain" in terms of our copyright statement).
Personal attribution also inhibits other people's freedom of editing a page, which is generally in contrast to the Wiki idea and, in the Unreal Wiki, only used where we copied previously existing static documents with the author's permission.
How should we go about this?
Tarquin: One possibilty is to rewrite as "Page contributors: *list*". This is done on some Meatball pages when different things are refactored into a single document. People would be honour-bound to only add their names to the list if they'd made a major contribution to the tutorial or article. But I'd rather people did things the other way round: maybe keep a list of which areas they've worked on at their personal page and keep the articles themselves clean.
Mychaeel: Yes... I think of all options (except keeping documents anonymous altogether) asking people to keep a list of pages they worked on on their personal page if they want to and keep the documents themselves clean is the best.
Any "list of authors" on a page implies that everybody who's not on that list didn't contribute anything, and that raises the question what and how much somebody has to change on a page to be eligible for inclusion in that list. Add a new paragraph? At a single, but very useful bit of information? Fix a typo that completely changed the meaning of a paragraph? Fix a typo that just looked bad? (That's a rhetoric question, none to be answered – that'd be futile anyway, which is my point.)
Sobiwan: The way I see it, WIKI is a public effort by its definition. Personal recognition, posterity, notoriety and other forms of ego boosting are opposite to the goal of collecting public information. Keep it anonymous, dont worry about who gets bragging rights and focus only on getting accurate and concise information into the WIKI.
Mychaeel: Creating links to non-existing pages on "topic" or "table of contents" pages without the actual intention of creating that page is, I believe, counterproductive.
The problem is similar to that of creating sticky postings in a forum: Those page links soon become just part of the normality that's perceived as such by the regulars and so, as time goes by, it becomes increasingly likely that the corresponding page will actually never be created. The title "rough draft" on Project Copyright has a similar problem. (I am going to remove it shortly, but I'll leave it there for demonstration purposes.)
ZxAnPhOrIaN: Could you please put this into the quips file (the Quotes in the bottom of the page)? You can tell me how to enhance it to make it more understandable. Thanks!
You cannot have a map without script, and you cannot play mods without maps. It is a symbiotic relationship. (ZxAnPhOrIaN)
Mychaeel: I believe tarquin occasionally adds quotes to the quips file when he comes across something he likes. I don't think he takes requests.
ZxAnPhOrIaN: Oh I see.
Mychaeel: The Unreal Wiki forums on BuF have been completely wiped with the recent BuF disaster. Right now they're devoid of any content, and ongoing Wiki discussions have been taking place directly on the Wiki anyway – so there's little point in keeping them around. Should we have a BuF admin remove them?
Zxanphorian: Agreed, most problems will be stated here. No sence wasting valuable server space for no reason what so ever. We should have it removed and then let other new sites to Bu and BuF get our place on the forums.
Tarquin: They sometimes are useful. I don't imagine they take up much server space, so I'd be inclined to just leave them there. hmmm. but then we have to remember to check them once in a while – unless subscribe to forum works in the new vB?
Mychaeel: The domain http://www.unrealwiki.com is fully functional now as a direct alternative to http://wiki.beyondunreal.com (not a HTTP-level redirect or a HTML frameset hack). Thanks to DJPaul for funding the domain registration during the last and for the next year.
The redirect from http://www.unrealwiki.com still leads to http://wiki.beyondunreal.com/wiki/ – I haven't figured out yet how to make it depend on the host name and redirect to http://www.unrealwiki.com/wiki/ only if "www.unrealwiki.com" was originally entered in the browser's address bar. I wouldn't like to automatically redirect everybody to www.unrealwiki.com yet since most people's cookies still refer to wiki.beyondunreal.com and won't work without logging in anew for the new domain.
Tarquin: I don't know enough about the technical side to form an opinion. As for our canonical address:
- promotes BU
- if we move from BU / BU dies, we're in trouble
- is easy to remember
- if we move from BU / BU dies, there's no problem
- if we run out of money, we're in trouble
What do other people think? I'm cool whichever way
Mychaeel: Well... I don't think that running out of money will be a problem anytime soon, given that it doesn't really cost a fortune to keep the domain up. (For that matter, if BeyondUnreal would suddenly cease to exist we'd be in problems anyway – Unreal Wiki's bandwidth certainly costs more than the domain.)
DJPaul: http://www.unrealwiki.com/Unreal_Engine/ would be nicer still. You could mod_redirect http://www.unrealwiki.com/wiki/Unreal_Engine/ to the aforementioned address, and do a similar thing for just http://www.unrealwiki.com/.
Does BU uses Apache as a webserver? If so, I can write up a .htaccess redirect if the server has mod_redirect installed and give it to you (just two lines).
Mychaeel: I would not want http://www.unrealwiki.com/Whatever to be a redirect to http://wiki.beyondunreal.com/wiki/Whatever – that'd still mean the latter address would eventually appear in the browser's address bar.
It is quite possible to internally direct http://www.unrealwiki.com/Whatever (and http://wiki.beyondunreal.com/Whatever) without the "/wiki" part directly to the Wiki script and have it return the corresponding page. The technical problem, however, is that there are regular directories and files on http://www.unrealwiki.com as well – and such file requests should obviously not be directed to the Wiki script but handled by the server directly. Right now, the "/wiki" part serves to clearly distinguish page requests from regular file requests.
Since all page names on the Wiki are bound to start with a digit or a capital letter (and all regular files and directories are lowercase by convention), that could serve to distinguish a page request from a regular file request – but then again right now it's also perfectly legal to enter the address http://www.unrealwiki.com/wiki/mychaeel (note the small "m") to get to my home page, and the corresponding "new" request http://www.unrealwiki.com/mychaeel would instead lead to a "file not found" error.
Thinking of it though that's not too much of an issue – people should simply not link to pages in any other than their original capitalization (that is, with a capital initial in any case).
DJPaul: What about moving the regular directories and files to a subdirectory, which the webserver then checks for in the URL and doesn't rewrite the URL if this new directory is present?
Tarquin: it's a fairly small number of subdirectories that are accessed from the browser. In fact, /wiki-ext/ is the only one I can think of. Easier to just list them rather than move files about.
Mychaeel: Speaking in terms of URLs, we have
cgi-bin/for certain scripts such as the image uploader,
wiki-ext/for images and styles, and
dl.phpfor mirrored downloads.
Those "virtual" directories could indeed be explicitly excluded from the internal forwarding to the Wiki script. The downside is that there are some more common requests for files on a web server's domain root that would also be forwarded to the Wiki script even though the proper response would not be having the Wiki script return a "Page not found" page, such as (but not necessarily limited to)
favicon.ico(requested by browsers under certain circumstances)
robots.txt(requested by search engine spiders)
I think it'd be best to limit the requests that are directed to the Wiki script to those that start with a capital letter or a digit and forward everything else to the web server's default handling. (And maybe we should modify the Wiki script so that it will always redirect the user's browser to the "canonical" representation of a page name – initial caps for every word – unless it is given that way in the request already.)
DJPaul: Yes. Of course you would have to run a script on the wiki to ensure there's no lower-case/no first number page names existing in the wiki, and modify the create new page script to enforce uppercase page names. BTW I do plan to renew the domain in a few days.
Mychaeel: The Wiki script enforces capital initials for page names already. There might be an arcane way to create pages starting with a lowercase letter, but that's more a bug than a feature (given that you can't successfully link to one such page within the wiki) that could be either ignored or fixed.
DJPaul: This presumes BeyondUnreal runs a case-sensitive filesystem - does it?
Mychaeel: It actually presumes that the Wiki script is case-sensitive. That, though, happens to depend in turn on the underlying file system, and that's indeed case-sensitive on BeyondUnreal's Linux server.
Ch3z: I understand that we need to maintain the wiki as a document maintained by the wikizens rather than working the wiki code over and over to make it maintain itself. But this is something that I think will be helpful in finding your way around in the document but is probably not really something the wikizens could keep up with.
The idea would be that the wiki write a section at the bottom of ever page (dynamically for the sake of it being current) called "Pages that link to this page" (or to that effect) and under that section would be a list of links to all the pages which have a link to that page.
It may be good if it only lists the pages that link to that page specifically in the "Related Links" section. Problem there (which is fixable by the wikizens) is that some pages have "Related Links", some have "Related Topics", and like this one, "See also". I have even seen "Wider Reading" and I imagine there are other names for links sections throughout the wiki. Maybe it should be different in different cases?
For the purposes of user friendliness some consistancy would help. If the wiki will ever add the section i have suggested here, then i think this consistancy would be neccessary.
GRAF1K: Just click on the page's header (for example, Project Discussion) at the top of any page to find a list of pages that link to it.
Ch3z: Duh... good point Grafik hehehe. But still it might be worthwhile to standardize the links heading on all pages eh?
Tarquin: The "correct" standard is "Related Topics". It's also good to explain what the links are about, if it's not immediately obvious why they're relevant
Wormbo: I just tried using Google to find anything about UnrealScript, but the Wiki was not listed at all. Explicitly searching for "site:wiki.beyondunreal.com <put anything here>" doesn't seem to find anything either.
Tarquin: That would explain why our Wiki Site Stats dropped a couple of months ago. I wonder if Google have changed something like their response to robots.txt. I don't think anything has been changed here. We have a problem.
Wormbo: Unreal Wiki still doesn't show up in Google, Lycos or AllTheWeb searches. I only checked the sites Opera displays by default, but I'm quite sure all others don't list the wiki either.
EntropicLqd: Doing a search for Unreal Wiki using altavista gives the wiki result number 1. Doing the same on google gives a zillion links to articles with links but no direct ones (I got bored after 10 result pages). Same with yahoo (looks like they use google tbh). web.ask.com also lists the Wiki home page. It's a conspiracy I tell you.
EntropicLqd: I just submitted both the unreal wiki and the UDN to the ODP project that google runs. We'll see if that does the trick.
Tarquin: We're still not on Google Is something still blocking the bot, or is it just a question of waiting patiently?
Mychaeel: We have regular visits of "Mediapartners-Google/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html)", but I believe that's only related to the Google ads at the bottom of the page. – In addition, I've found visits from "Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html)" in recent logs which in turn I believe is indeed Google's spider. Maybe we're soon in Google again...
EntropicLqd: Google still haven't added this site to their directory - it's a conspiracy I tell you. Also, I dropped a mail (2003-Dec-10) to the http://www.unrealtournament.com/ site asking for the Unreal Wiki to be added to their community links page. So far no joy - might be worth a couple of other people mailing them. It's a conspiracy I tell you. Also, the Unreal Wiki still doesn't show up in google. Does google block Wiki based sites in the same way that they block "blogs"?
EntropicLqd: The new Unreal Tournament site has a link now for submitting fan sites so I've re-submitted the Wiki. It broke the form which is a bit of a bummer but I'll keep checking the site to see if the request got through. I'll get the Wiki added yet.
Tarquin: UT.com has mucked up our URL
Wormbo: Most likely because you added "http://" to it. I saw other links also having this problem.
Tarquin: Still no sign of us on Google